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IBM opens global Watson IoT hub in Germany

IBM Watson IoT HQ

US IT giant IBM has made a major statement of intent towards IoT by opening a global HQ dedicated to its Watson Internet of Things offering in Germany.

Watson is IBM’s cognitive computing unit, designed to use machine learning and natural language processing to analyse unstructured data. At the core of IoT will be the ability to collect vast amounts of data from billions of different sources and make sense of it. IBM is betting that positioning itself as one of the companies best able to help with that process is the way forward.

The Watson IoT HQ in Munich (pictured) will apparently employ 1,000 IBM developers, consultants, researchers and designers all exploring at the intersection of cognitive computing and IoT. IBM sees Europe as the hub of global IoT development and this HQ is its most extensive European investment in over 20 years.

“The Internet of Things will soon be the largest single source of data on the planet, yet almost 90 percent of that data is never acted upon,” said Harriet Green, GM of Watson IoT and Education. “With its unique abilities to sense, reason and learn, Watson opens the door for enterprises, governments and individuals to finally harness this real-time data, compare it with historical data sets and deep reservoirs of accumulated knowledge, and then find unexpected correlations that generate new insights to benefit business and society alike.”

One early Watson IoT partner is the smart building arm of Siemens. “By bringing asset management and analytics together with a deep technical understanding of how buildings perform, Siemens will make customers’ building operations more reliable, cost-optimized and sustainable,” said Matthias Rebellius, CEO of Siemens Building Technologies. “We are excited to stretch the envelope of what is possible in optimizing building performance by combining the asset management and database technologies from IBM’s Watson IoT business unit with our market leading building automation domain know-how.”

IoT is perhaps the defining technological trend for the next decade, encompassing every part of the ICT spectrum. IBM is right to say that all these embedded sensors and smart devices are pointless unless we use all the data they will generate to make useful decisions. In many ways this is the natural evolution of Big Data and it will be no less challenging to demonstrate ROI on IoT.

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